The Bhutanese



Bhutanese people are generally categorized into three main ethnic groups. The Tshanglas, Ngalops and the Lhotshampas. Bhutan is also inhabited by many other minority groups like Monpas, Layaps, Brokpa and Doyas. Generally, people are a fun-loving and fond of songs and dance and you will often witness people engaged in traditional games like archery and traditional darts.

Living in Bhutanese society generally means understanding some accepted norms such as Driglam Namzha, the traditional code of etiquette. Driglam Namzha teaches people a code of conduct to adhere to as members of a respectful society. Examples of Driglam Namzha include wearing a traditional scarf (kabney) when visiting a Dzong or an office, letting the elders and the monks serve themselves first during meals, offering felicitation scarves during ceremonies such as marriages and promotions and politely greeting elders or seniors.

Normally, greetings are limited to saying “Kuzuzangpo” (hello) amongst equals. For seniors and elders, the Bhutanese bow their head a bit and say “kuzuzangpo la” (a more respectful greeting). Recently, shaking hands has become an accepted norm.


The Bhutanese constitution guarantees freedom of religion and citizens and visitors are free to practice any form of worship so long as it does not impinge on the rights of others. Christianity, Hinduism and Islam are also present in the country. Majority of the people are Buddhist and people often refer to it as the last stronghold of Vajrayana Buddhism. Buddhism was first introduced by the Indian Tantric master Guru Padmasambhava in the 8th century. Until then the people practiced Bonism a religion that worshipped all forms of nature, remnants of which are still evident in some remote villages.


Bhutanese cuisines are mostly spicy and chillis are indispensable part of almost every Bhutanese dish. Bhutanese meals have rice in all three times a day often accompanied by pork, beef or chicken with some vegetables. Spinach, pumpkins, turnips, radishes, river weed, onions and green beans are some of the common vegetables. Grains such as rice, buckwheat and barley are also cultivated in various regions of the country.

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